The Toronto production of the smash Broadway musical Rent has been delayed until 1997. Originally scheduled to open in autumn 1996, the postponement stems from a tangle of lawsuits concerning the venue of choice for the musical.
According to Toronto production spokesman John Karastamatis, had production proceeded as scheduled, the Toronto Rent would have followed Broadway as the world's second production of the musical. However, legal wrangling between Garth Drabinsky's Livent Inc., the unsuccessful bidder for the Toronto rights, and the Ontario Heritage Foundation's Elgin Theater, which Livent had booked to house Rent, allowed producers of the upcoming Boston Rent production to announce their own autumn opening.
Because director Michael Greif and other creative talent couldn't be in both cities at once, one production was bound to yield, and it turned out to be the one north of the border.
Some theater insiders have speculated that Garth Drabinsky's injunction against housing Rent at the Elgin (now sought after by Mirvish Productions, successful bidders for the show) may just be a matter of sour grapes. A court hearing was held on July 8, and a ruling is pending. Regardless of the legal red tape that has stalled Rent in Toronto, Karastamatis is confident that the production will premiere in 1997.
An item in Toronto's Globe and Mail newspaper outlined a number of options available to Mirvish Productions should the Elgin not be available to the musical. Alternatives include selecting another theater or, intriguingly, renovating a warehouse to house the show about young adults living in an abandoned industrial loft. More about the Toronto Rent legal tangle.
-- By Andrew Ku